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YA post-apocalypse and dystopian novels formulate alternative realities where traditional gender roles and conceptions of masculinity and femininity can be contested and/or re-invented. Manuel de Pedrolo’s novel Typescript of the Second Origin (1974) is a case in point since, in the aftermath of a devastating alien attack, the fate of the human species is left in the hands of a resourceful teenager, Alba. Through the application of sheer determination and common sense, Alba manages to survive apocalypse, keeps her male child companion alive long enough to be impregnated by him, and becomes the herald of a new, more equalitarian society. However, Pedrolo does not envision a new post-apocalyptic body and ultimately reduces Alba’s stature and sense of purpose to her ability to reproduce and become ‘the mother’ of humanity. Contemporary YA fiction written in the last decade also provides readers with powerful teenage heroines who, like Alba, face dangers, defeat enemies and confront threats. This article analyses some contemporary dystopian and post-apocalypse trilogies for young adults, especially Rick Yancey’s ‘The 5th Wave’ trilogy (2013-2016), alongside Pedrolo’s Typescript to explore the extent of the authors’ success in the creation of young heroines as agents of change able to resist the limitations of gender and re-create the worlds in which they live in more progressive terms. The article argues that, in spite of the changes in the presentation of female heroism, contemporary YA dystopia and post-apocalypse narratives fall short of articulating a fully feminist discourse and, like Pedrolo’s novel, ultimately fail to envision female futures.



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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License

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